Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Plundering the Copy Vats: Encounters

I enjoyed +Chris McDowall's Small Tables and have written one for encounters within the abandoned Copy Vats.
  1. 4 Bad Copies. 1 hp, 8 Str, d6 bent swords, walk sideways, want to find reflections and destroy reflections. 
  2. 10 Bad Copies. As above, trying to destroy puddles of water by stamping or drinking. First time you roll this, one has a mirror Daemon / Oddity they're going to destroy next.
  3. Copied Sage. 8 hp, 13 Str, 16 Cha. d6 + 2 Voice of Ponderousness (area). Wants to obtain the last copy of Transfixation, somewhere in a Vat copy receiver chamber.
  4. Perfect Copy. 9 hp, 14 Str, 14 Dex, 14 Cha, d6+2 heavy fists. Nude, wants to eliminate inadequate life, and/or be worshipped. 
  5. 6 Copy Cultists. 5 hp, d6 rifles, bad trip gas grenade, Cha save or feel like they're really ok, 1d6 Cha damage to ignore this. Want to take copy machines, live forever via copying. Will take any relic from the vats.
  6. Radueirel, Angel. Dex 13, Cha 12, Str 9, hp 4. Twin people occupying a mirrored space, which follows them around, reflecting ranged attacks that target the one in the mirror. Survives unless you step into mirror and kill reflection (which has the same stats). Wants to create perfect lossless copies, knows the Perfect Copy is flawed. 
Damage against Angels is impaired.

Inspired by Bastion Ein Sof

I'm running something with this and the Maze tables from Maze Rats. When I roll a 1 on either d6, there's going to be some Copy Vat nearby. Table for vat contents / functionality soon.

Bastion Ein Sof review

Oh yeah, Bastion Ein Sof! I haven't heard a peep about this around on the interwebs. It's a setting for Into the Odd, taking place after the apocalyptic destruction of Bastion. There are some other post-apocalyptic Into the Odd hacks, but this is distinctly less Mad Max and more weirdly metaphysical.

The remnants of humanity crouch in the shadows of Giants, beings which cannot be directly seen. The Angels and their minions cannot come into the shadows, and so there humanity is safe. But the Giants are vulnerable to the machinations of the Angels, and require tribute to continue to provide shelter, to stand still. Humans must tithe silver, Angel blood, or their own flesh to the Giants.

It's evocative and creepy. The Angels can be wounded and can change form, sometimes turning into Oddities or Arcanum, which Ein Sof dubs 'Daemons.' Daemons can, when destroyed, turn back into Angels, so you have a built-in risk/reward for arcanum.

The setting is mythic - the Angels Destroyed Bastion, and the Giants came to save us. The Giants Destroyed Bastion to save us from ourselves. Angels can turn into Giants, PCs can be Angels somehow rendered mortal and able to entire Bastion. The setting is amorphous, shifting, unclear, rumor, like how the crystal of fact would shatter or cloud, after an apocalypse.

The setting is not perfect - in its current form there are a few mechanical things I'm not totally clear on, or that the author wanted to leave up to the DM or the table. You owe the giants a tithe at the end of every session, so in theory you're returning from your expedition. It's not clear, the book states "At the end of every session, you must cross the gates of Heaven" and that this is when sacrifice is made. If not made, the Giant may, based on a 2d6 roll, inflict harm upon the humans in its shadow.

So the gates of Heaven are not described, but I think that's easy enough to envision or hack. I run short sessions so I'd probably have an expedition take 2 and have this happen on the PC's return.

The other strange quibble is how gear purchases are made - to create a character, you get random equipment from a d66 chart, but this random equipment system is suggested as the way characters buy anything at any time. It's odd and not elaborated upon. You have an equal chance of getting a fine weapon, a Daemon, a normal weapon, a drum, a dog, a ferret, a fine hat... So, I can see some players being into this weird shop selling random unknown things like something out of The Legend of Zelda, but I can equally imagine people being annoyed. Still, it's not hard to just use the equipment prices from Into the Odd here.

Oh, there is a third quibble - there is no PDF of this. It only costs four quid plus postage from the UK, which is not insane, but I cannot imagine a PDF would hurt. The book is also quite small, so the fonts are a little small, especially the tables. A PDF could ameliorate that.

The setting slightly hacks damage rules - you only need a d6 for damage rolls, which range from 1d3, d6, d6+2, and then to 2d6 for heavy weapons. I'm fond of this, the game is built to only need a d20 and a d6, as all the random tables follow Chris' Small Tables approach.

Characters have a failed career from a d66 table, and a question - generally telling us, via the question, about the job, and letting the players add some person linking them to the setting or to another character. The book suggests that one should think of what the backgrounds mean and perhaps even ask the players for setting information related to their profession, which one can take or leave at one's preference. Either way the backgrounds are useful for imagining the world.

So the 26 page book, slightly larger than a Field Notes pocket notebook, has principles for running the game, character creation rules, Daemons, Angels with examples and a table of what they turn into when wounded, Giants and examples and their Tribute, and an example adventure with random encounters and some detailed locations. There's a 1d6 reaction roll and some small random tables for giants/angels and their domain, and some locations. For an ashcan edition, it feels like plenty thanks to how much is implied, for me.

Overall it is fantastic for four quid. If you're interested in an apocalypse which concerns itself with shadow-walled cities and evil Angels at the border, Bastion Ein Sof is what you need.

Friday, June 8, 2018

What Automates This Golden Barge?

How does your campaign ship run? Is it a horizon fort which suddenly appears in a new place, its walls leaking blood into the fresh earth and staining your footprint upon new land? Have you been aboard your golden barge so long that you cannot sleep without the sibilant chanting of the kobold barge-worshipers who keep the engine going? Did the ghosts of prior crews chase away that para-demon which tried to stalk the stony corridors of your comet-ship?

What automates this campaign ship? roll 2d6

1. Kobold barge-worshipers
2. Skeletons, semisentient, various stages of decay, various levels of radiation
3. semi-sentient crew vine. 50% some poison ivy
4. unseen servants running off mana batteries
5. precision feng shui of the architecture
6. tiny clay golems made in a small kiln from exotic dirt
7. blue electric gnomes
8. ghosts of prior crew
9. manipulating a scale model of the vehicle at its helm, 'just works'
10. bound demon-crew

The crew has needs of their own. Skeletons need replacement parts, kobolds need some food. Demons want shore leave but gods help the shore.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Quill Scenarios: Academia de Asasinos, Lost Seedship

Basement-Dwelling University Town Resident

You are on a bucolic island, Kalla, roomed in the basement of an old friend, Boory al-Safufi. She is a wonderful host and a professor at the local college. Which is actually the Academia de Asesinos. Tenured positions are limited, and several enterprising postdocs want Boory's position. They are less interested in waiting for her to retire than they are in exploring the practical application of their research.

Profile: You are writing a 'newcomer's perspective' article for the campus paper, Black Poisoned Glove. They want a piece for incoming freshmen, giving them a little special insight into the lives of their professors.

Ink Pot

corpse / dead student
contact poison / Last Sleep
doorknob trap / finger-pinch razor
morbid writings / theoretical treatise
ambitious postdoc / Karol "Wire" Rallner
small crossbow / alley piece
hairpin / concealed weapon
friendly lecture / veiled threat
rope / silk strand
casual admission / orchestrated falsehood
library / wizardarium
steel wire / garrote part
academic robes / discrete armor
folding sword / Blood Sup
blurry garment of many faces / scrambler suit

5 or less: An attempt on Boory's life catches you in the crossfire. You wake up in a drifting cathedral / hospital ship, having lost all your items. If you had no items, you are dead.

6-9: You manage to make 15 gp off your article - the newspaper is reasonably happy. 

10+: The newspaper loves your think-piece and gives you 30gp, and a mostly-used bottle of Ink of Correction (1 use left).

Lost Seedship

You are adrift in a seedship in the deep blue. The craft is a little smaller than a launch, comfortable enough for short trips, but you've been aboard it for weeks. Its living body slowly pulses and gurgles in the sun, amidst your dwindling supplies. The clouds above and below are a haze, and no islands or moons are in sight.

Profile => You are writing a daily log while watching carefully for any signs of civilization. Or just food and water.

Ink Pot 
 friendly vessel / mirage
blue flowers / rain catchers
undermast / stinger
flying fish / cloud trout
rations / venerable MREs of the wizard war
parasites / drumhead beetles 
giant bats / seedeaters
man-sized bat / young seedeater
drifting ship / dead hulk
flares / illusion wands
windy storm / drop tempest
still / becalmed
white noise crystal / radio

5 or less: You find land with water, but you are marooned on a will-o-wisp laden island. See "Marooned" and take the Wisp Whisperer class.

6-9: You manage to signal to a nearby naval vessel, which takes you onboard and treats you for exposure and malnutrition. Your journal is detailed enough that they pay you 15 gp as an explorer's fee, as you had drifted through uncharted sky. They'll drop you at King's Port after a few more weeks (see 'Fire in the Sky').

10+: The naval vessel rewards you with 30 gp and a small bottle of Cinder Ink (3 uses) for your detailed cartographic maps of the uncharted area. They'll drop you at King's Port after a few more weeks (see 'Fire in the Sky').

Sunday, June 3, 2018


My daughter helped me with this one.

3 HD
No. Encountered: d4 + 1
4 in 6 sneak
4 in 6 detect sneaks
hypno-eye: save or you cannot attack or break eye contact with the owl face in question. You get to re-save every time it or another Owl Face attacks you.
Wants: they steal magic, tech, and fabric and take them to their 'nest' in the deep woods to build strange machines

Looks like a human in a long cloak wearing a painted wooden mask. Of course, it's not a mask, and their cloaks are a strange set of boneless membrane that allows them to fly at a decent pace. They move from village to village, stripping them of various items, occasionally attacking people (1d6 claws) but generally doing hit-and-run attacks. (On a successful hit, they can disarm, trip, or temporarily blind someone, typically allowing them to flee.)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Quill Whitebox Crewing Sky Pirate Actual Play

Renald, esteemed magic-user and writer of wonderous words, having escaped the Tandalosian prison moon, finds himself crewing on a sky pirate's ship. Everything is wonderful but nevertheless he is planning out a new place to go.

(My language rolls look like this (456 +1), indicating I rolled 3d6 and got a 4, 5, and 6, allowing me to use a superior word and get a plus 1 for the letter. I often forget to try to use a flourish, but when I do, an F:1 indicates the flourish and roll for it.)

Dearest Boory - 

I hope this missive finds you well! Rufus and I find ourselves working upon the Old Hand, near  Horus' Marker (145 +1), and I was wondering, if you can find the time and space, if we can leave Captain Windsong's delightful vessel and visit you for a time. P: 5,4 +1

We may bring a few friendly will o' wisps, as they reneged on their deal with the captain - well, with me, acting as the captain. They have stayed on to be close to me! Fortunately the crew, who cannot possibly spy on these letters, have been the soul of understanding. They haven't even blamed the last sky squid attack on my 'devil magic' and my 'whispering hell lights' (245 +1). Though they have jokingly presented these colorful phrases. P: 6, 3 +1

Nor has the sighting of a Tandalos destroyer been laid at my feet (466 +1), for failing to summon a sufficient storm. As I told the crew, the Tandalos bloodhound half-golems can't possibly track one through the skies and aether. P: 1,1

Besides, all the crew saw me lead the defense against Tandalos boarders, when they flew in on a flight skiff at night, charging onto the decks, their vibro-cutlasses held aloft! (F: 2, 626 +1) They were very well-disciplined; they didn't scream their war-cries until they were almost atop me. I was on watch, you see. It's not as though they make me sleep above-deck because of my 'evil eye.' (No penmanship yet)

As an aside, my face, scalp, hands and feet are now covered in black line-art tattoos thanks to some gangers from the prison with some insight into metaphysics, and/or raving madness. However, despite the gangers' strange thought patterns, the tattoos function quite well as mystic armor, and repelled a sword blow or three as I summoned a strong enough aether wind to wash away some of the boarders. The Old Hand teetered and rocked as I did so, and the crew came to my aid, for which I am eternally grateful. P: 5,2 +1

After the fight was over, I and an older crewman set to swabbing the deck. I found a gem pistol (undischarged) in the coil of rope I had napped in, and Benjamos, the crewman, taught me a slow, low shanty (F: 3, 343). I'd love to sing it for you, so write back if I can room, perhaps, in your hidden basement? P: 4, 4 +1 (because magic user)

The wisps are humming now. I'll nod off soon. See you in a fortnight, hopefully!


Score: 9

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Quill Whitebox Scenario: Aboard a Sky Pirate's Ship

You are crewing on Captain Windsong's vessel, the Old Hand, earning your way elsewhere. Windsong is an honorable man by pirate standards, and runs a tight ship. Old friend or not, there are no passengers, only crew or prisoners. So you are now crew. You will contribute to the well-being of the skyboat or you will be marooned.

Profile: You have another old friend in the region, Boory al-Safufi, a person of letters who dwells in a small college upon a bucolic island. It's possible she could take you in for a few weeks while you seek out less piratical, more direct transportation.

Ink Pot

air kraken / sky squid
old coins / millenial doubloons
old island / Horus' Marker
 gliding varmit / saileater
enemy vessel / Tandalosian destroyer
privateers / anti-pirate task force
boarding gear / glide harness
sword / vibro-cutlass
cat / good luck charm
shanty / Rum's Blues
crystal / engine heart
bylaws / pirate's code
cargo / spider silks
refugees / fleeing Antillians


5-: You are marooned.
6-9: 20gp, an alright haul, and some of the crew even like you
10+: 40gp, cask of rum, the crew will miss you